Tag Archives: Hope

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Embracing the Hope of Our Identity in Christ

The apostle Peter offers a profound summary of our identity in Christ in 1 Peter 2:9-10. In the process, he uncovers a wellspring of hope for everyone who follows Christ.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Trace Your Path

In the first place, no one can appreciate the light like those who have been in darkness. The apostle Paul encourages to forget “those things which are behind” (Philippians 3:13). But sometimes a backward glance can help us appreciate just how far we’ve come.

How has your life changed since you gave it to Christ? What differences do you see in yourself? What differences do other people notice? By taking measure of what God already has done in your life, you can light the spark of hope as to what your future holds.

Find Your Strength

In the second place, Peter was writing to a church that was being persecuted. They had little obvious reason to hope. Yet Peter is firm in his assurance that God will fully equip His own to face opposition and challenges. When our strength and endurance falters, God will renew us. He will re-energize us. He will give us what we need to stand strong and thrive.

Energize Your Worship

In the third place, our very calling is hopeful in nature. According to Peter, our job is to “proclaim the praises” of God—to worship Him with everything we’ve got. In order to do that, however, we need to understand God, to get a sense of who He is and what He’s done.

We need to take a fresh look at His creation, the wonders and intricacies of His loving design. We need to immerse ourselves in the stories and passages of the Bible that reveal aspects of God’s nature and detail His awe-inspiring works. We need to talk to others about God’s work in their lives. We need to read the words of the psalmists and others who committed themselves to worship—men and women who were inspired to write words like this:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

Psalm 8:3-4

The more we learn about what God has done, the more we understand about what He’s capable of. How He brings ultimate good from even the worst circumstances. The more we immerse ourselves in the business of worship, the more hope we will ultimately find.

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Orthodox Christianity is the face of ancient Christianity to the modern world and embraces the second largest body of Christians in the world. In this first-of-its-kind study Bible, the Bible is presented with commentary from the ancient Christian perspective that speaks to those Christians who seek a deeper experience of the roots of their faith.

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Claiming the Bible’s Legacy of Hope

Offering Hope to the Next Generation

Surviving and Thriving in an Anxiety-Filled Culture

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Offering Hope to the Next Generation

Jun 13, 2019 |

Acts 8 tells the story of an Ethiopian official who was sitting in his chariot, trying to make sense of Scripture and perhaps find the hope contained within. Philip the evangelist approached him and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The Ethiopian’s reply should strike a chord in the heart of every follower of Christ: “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31)

Many young people today can empathize with the Ethiopian. They’ve been told that abundant hope is available to them, but they don’t know how to access it. They need someone to help them recognize it, understand it, and apply it to their lives.

The Acts narrative makes it clear that God sent Philip to guide the Ethiopian in his search for hope and truth. If you’d like to play the role of Philip in the lives of young people, here are a few ideas to consider.

Embrace the role of mentor.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Many young people have no one to offer such training. Are you willing to step into that void and take responsibility for a young person? You don’t need to be a parent—or even have experience in working with kids—in order to be an effective mentor. All you need is a heart for making a difference in someone’s life. Your investment of time, attention, and concern will yield hope in the life of a young person.

Introduce them to the Book of Philippians.

adult working with child in hope

In his short letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul uses the words joy or rejoice more than a dozen times—and he scatters references to peace throughout.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

If you spend enough time in the book, you’ll find that Paul’s joy is contagious. And where there’s joy, there’s hope.

Show them the expanse of their future.

The Book of Philippians figures prominently here, too. Too many young people have artificial limitations and low expectations thrust upon them. They’re led to believe that their potential is determined by their economic status, the functionality of their family, the area in which they grew up, their athletic ability, their standardized test scores, and other artificial measures.

Circumstances may limit the vision of some young people. In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul makes it clear that our future is in the hands of a loving God who has big plans for us.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

That’s the message of hope young people need to hear.

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Additional reading:

Claiming the Bible’s Legacy of Hope

The Best Strategies for Helping Children Memorize God’s Word

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Claiming the Bible’s Legacy of Hope

God compiles a remarkable résumé in the pages of Scripture—not just for His own glory, but for our benefit as well. Time and time again, He proves Himself to be faithful. He honors His Word. He fulfills the terms of His covenants.

God Comes Through Even When It Seems Impossible

God proved Himself faithful to Abram (Abraham) and his descendants. Genesis 12 records the covenant God made with Abram. He instructed Abram to leave his homeland of Ur for a new land—a land called Canaan, where Abram and his descendants would dwell. Descendants were part of the covenant, too—a nation of descendants as innumerable as the stars in the night sky (Genesis 15:5).

Abram and his wife Sarai (Sarah) were childless at the time. Abram was 75 years old. Yet Abram took God at His word and moved his household to Canaan. Twenty-five years passed.

During that period, Abraham and Sarah lost sight of God’s timetable and concocted a plan whereby Abraham would father a son (who was given the name Ishmael) with Sarah’s handmaid. They convinced themselves that it was the only way for God’s covenant to be fulfilled.

And then Sarah became pregnant.

She was 90 years old. Abraham was 100.

They named their son Isaac. Isaac later fathered a son named Jacob, also known as Israel. Jacob, in turn, fathered 12 sons—and a nation was born.

Abraham learned that God’s faithfulness isn’t bound by time or the laws of nature.

God Comes Through Even When His People Don’t

Abraham’s descendants—the nation of Israel—proved themselves to be anything but faithful. They turned their backs on God and embraced idols. They rejected His kingship and demanded human rulers. They abandoned His teachings and forgot the stories of His great works.

Through it all, though, God remained faithful. He sent prophets to warn them of the dire consequences of their disobedience. When the people wouldn’t listen, He allowed their enemies to conquer them and carry them away into captivity.

Even at that point—arguably, Israel’s lowest—God would not give up on Abraham’s descendants. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God Comes Through Even When It Costs Him Dearly

God’s faithfulness didn’t stop there. Passages such as Isaiah 49:5-6 reveal the extent of His love for His people—and for all people. Through His prophet Isaiah, God promised to send a Savior, One who would “restore the preserved ones of Israel,” serve as a “light to the Gentiles,” and bring God’s “salvation to the ends of the earth.” He fulfilled His promise centuries later by sacrificing His only Son to pay the price for sin—faithful beyond measure.

Malachi 3:16 assures us that God doesn’t change. He is still faithful to His people. So there is always hope to be found, no matter how bleak things may seem. We may not know what that hope will look like, when to expect it, or how it will change our circumstances, but we can put our trust in a faithful God.

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This commentary is from the New King James Study Bible. With more than 2 million copies sold, it’s no secret that the NKJV Study Bible is a reliable guide for your journey into God’s Word. This Bible provides a complete resource for study, including thousands of notes, articles, extensive cross-references, and features contributed by top evangelical scholars.

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How to Be a Source of Hope to Your Community

May 20, 2019 |

In the wake of natural disasters and human tragedies, it’s not unusual for caring people from all walks of life to come together to provide for those who suffered loss. Some volunteers have a lot to offer; others, not so much. Yet all of them give from their own surplus to help others who have less.

What if the followers of Christ applied the same model when it comes to hope?

Hope is a scarce commodity.

Poverty, homelessness, broken homes, unemployment (or underemployment), health issues (physical and mental), addiction, violence, and personal struggles cloud the horizon and make it difficult for people to see a way forward. They devastate people’s hope and peace of mind.

Where there’s devastation, though, there’s an opportunity for rebuilding—and an opportunity for followers of Christ to carry out His work. Here are three things you can do to become a source of hope in your community.

Connect in a non-virtual way.

With apologies to Facebook, Instagram and other virtual platforms, a thousand or more social media “friends” cannot equal the impact of one genuinely caring flesh-and-blood acquaintance—someone who has something more substantial to offer than a praying hands emoji.

In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Passages such as Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:15, and Hebrews 3:13 make it clear that physical interaction is integral to His plan for humankind.

Stepping out from behind a screen to engage personally with others signals a willingness to “get our hands dirty”—to do the hard relational work necessary to bring healing and hope to the lives of people who need it.

Put your skills to use.

1 Peter 4:10 (“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”) reminds us that we’re given a unique set of talents and abilities for a reason: to make a difference in other people’s lives.  Imagine …

  1. A mechanic putting his or her automotive skills to use for a single parent who can’t afford car repair costs
  2. Someone with a passion for cooking preparing and delivering meals for families in need
  3. Empty nesters offering occasional evenings of child care for overworked, overstressed young parents
  4. Someone who’s knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition leading workouts for at-risk people in the community
  5. A business executive volunteering as a mentor for young people seeking a career.

With a little creativity and effort, you can use your skills, experience, and knowledge to bring hope to others.

Seek out the overlooked.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus identifies so closely with outcasts—people who have fallen through the cracks of society—that He tells His followers, Whatever you do for them, you’re doing for Me.

That means when we …

  1. Volunteer at a food bank, we’re making sure that Jesus has enough to eat.
  2. Spend time with nursing home residents, we’re showing Jesus that He isn’t forgotten.
  3. Visit people in prison, we’re letting Jesus know that His life still has worth.
  4. Assist the disabled at school or work, we’re making Jesus’ life a little easier.
  5. Intervene when someone is being bullied, we’re protecting Jesus.

Offering hope to those who need it is evangelism in its purest form. Matthew 5:16 instructs us, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Personally investing in someone’s life communicates God’s love more powerfully than any outreach event.

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Which Bible Characters Struggled with Depression?

The heroes of the faith loom so large in the consciousness of believers that it often comes as a surprise—and a comforting reassurance—to realize that they were every bit as human as we are. After all, if God worked in the midst of their struggles and weaknesses to accomplish his will—often in extraordinary ways—he can and will do the same in our lives.

Case in point: if you’ve ever struggled with depression, you may find comfort and encouragement in knowing that several well-known Bible characters seemed to struggle with it as well.

David

In Psalm 42:11, David asks, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” The beloved king of Israel seemed to have it all. He had enjoyed more victories and success than any other leader in Israel’s history. He was revered by his subjects and respected by his enemies. He had wealth, prestige, and family. God called him a man after his own heart.

Yet David was no stranger to the dark night of the soul. All of the accomplishments and adulation in the world couldn’t insulate him from bouts of depression.

Elijah

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah scores one of the most decisive victories in the Old Testament. He challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest. He will prepare one altar; they will prepare another. The God (or god) who sends fire to receive his offering will be declared the God of Israel. The prophets of Baal are unable to elicit so much as a spark from their god. Elijah’s God, on the other hand, sends a fire that consumes everything in its path, leaving no doubt as to who deserved Israel’s worship.

When his mountaintop experience ended, Elijah crashed—hard. A few verses later, we read this: “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” (1 Kings 19:4).

Naomi

Naomi’s future looked bleak. Her husband had died. So had her two sons, leaving no one to provide for her. She was stranded in a foreign land with no clear sense of how she was going to survive. Naomi’s story is found in the book of Ruth. At the center of the story is the bond between Naomi and Ruth, her daughter-in-law, who is also widowed.

Yet even that bond is not enough to lift the spirits of Naomi. Her bitterness and despair pour out in Ruth 1:20–21. When Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi’s hometown, the women recognize Naomi and greet her by name.

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

Jeremiah

StormsThe ministry God called Jeremiah to was a difficult one. Nicknamed the “weeping prophet,” Jeremiah was often the bearer of bad news. He was rejected, despised, and punished by the people he was sent to minister to. He remained faithful to God and resilient in the face of ridicule, but he felt the pain of loneliness deeply. His words in Jeremiah 20:14, 18, will resonate with anyone who has struggled with depression:

Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me! . . . Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

Each of these people has an important story to tell—one that involves depression but doesn’t end there. Their stories also include wonderful, thrilling, and heartwarming accounts of how God worked in and through their lives to accomplish his will.

 

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INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT THE WRITERS AND CHARACTERS IN THE BIBLE? CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES:

WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF ROMANS?
WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF JOSHUA?
WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF JOB?

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This commentary is from the New King James Study Bible. With more than 2 million copies sold, it’s no secret that the NKJV Study Bible is a reliable guide for your journey into God’s Word. This Bible provides a complete resource for study, including thousands of notes, articles, extensive cross-references, and features contributed by top evangelical scholars.

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Finding Hope in the Depths of Grief

Understandably, a thread of grief runs through the gospel account of Jesus’ crucifixion. We’re given glimpses of the people who were closest to Him—snapshots that allow us to imagine their pain and loss. As the story progresses from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, a second thread winds itself into the narrative—a thread of healing and joy.

These two threads continue throughout the New Testament and extend to us some 2,000 years later. Everyone whose hope is in Christ can find comfort and healing by tracing these threads back to their source.

By looking at the grief surrounding Jesus’ death, we can find encouragement to help us cope with our own grief and loss.

 

The Disciples

Imagine the grief of the men who had left everything to follow Jesus. For three years, they had shared in His ministry—the highs and the lows. They had watched Him still a storm at sea with just a few words. They had seen Him cure all manner of sickness and disability. They had been transformed by His teaching. Jesus had impacted each of them in extraordinary ways, and suddenly they were faced with the prospect of life without Him.

Compounding their grief was their realization that Jesus had warned them about what was going to happen—on several different occasions, in fact. Yet they had refused to listen or to accept the literalness of His words. So, when it finally happened—the betrayal, followed by the arrest and the crucifixion—they were caught by surprise. They scattered to save themselves and never had a chance to say their proper goodbyes.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples in a closed room. He spent time with them, helping them overcome their grief and comforting them with His presence. When Thomas, who was not present in the room, later expressed doubts about what the others had seen, Jesus appeared a second time. Thomas’ doubts—and grief—disappeared forever.

Peter

Imagine the grief of Jesus’ closest friend and self-styled protector. Peter’s sense of loss was magnified by his own devastating personal failure. Hours after vowing never to desert the Lord, Peter denied—on three separate occasions—even knowing him. As far as Peter knew, Jesus’ last memory of Him was his betrayal of his vow.

John 21:15–19 records the risen Jesus’ reconciliation with Peter. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter replied that he did. And three times Jesus instructed Peter to care for His lambs and sheep. He restored Peter’s heart and soul and prepared him to serve.

Mary 

Imagine the grief of Jesus’ mother. From the time she conceived, Mary understood that her son would be the long-awaited Messiah—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

Yet that didn’t change the fact that He was also her son. She saw nails driven into the hands that she had held when Jesus was a boy. She stood silently while a crowd hurled insults and spewed hatred at her firstborn child. Mary had watched Him draw His first breath, and she watched Him draw His last. Hers was the terrible grief of a mother who lives long enough to see the death of her child.

Hers was also the inexpressible joy of seeing that which she feared lost forever returned to her. When she saw the risen Jesus, those things which she had “pondered . . . in her heart” since his boyhood (Luke 2:19) suddenly took on a new meaning.

Jesus

The grief of His disciples, His closest friends, and even His mother paled in comparison to the grief Jesus Himself experienced when His heavenly Father turned away from Him. On the cross Jesus “became sin”—the object of His Father’s perfect wrath. The intimate fellowship with God that had sustained Jesus throughout His earthly ministry was broken. Jesus felt the full force of God’s abandonment. He was alone in a profoundly disturbing way. His grief pours from His lips as He quotes Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

When His sacrifice was completed and God’s plan for salvation was fulfilled, Jesus was restored to fellowship. According to Ephesians 1:20, he sits at the right hand of His Heavenly Father.

Us

Two thousand years later, we come to Good Friday with the benefit of hindsight. We know what happened on Easter Sunday. So, we react to Jesus’ sacrifice not with grief, but with a sense of unworthiness and overwhelming gratitude. Yet we’re no strangers to grief. Where do Jesus’ death and resurrection leave us as we struggle with our own devastating losses?

Because of the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, those who put their trust in Jesus will live forever in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We may not be able to wrap our minds around everything that entails, but we do know this: because of Jesus’ redemptive work, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Rev. 21:4).

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The FIRST EVER Orthodox Study Bible presents the Bible of the early church and the church of the early Bible.

Orthodox Christianity is the face of ancient Christianity to the modern world and embraces the second largest body of Christians in the world. In this first-of-its-kind study Bible, the Bible is presented with commentary from the ancient Christian perspective that speaks to those Christians who seek a deeper experience of the roots of their faith.

Check it out today. 

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